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A Place for All – Struggle for Equality at the Western Wall by Anat Hoffman, Executive Director, irac.org
The problem is that the people running the Kotel itself represent only one kind of Jewish vision: Ultra-Orthodox…the Council is all men. They are all Orthodox, without exception. They make the rules and the rest of us are shut out of the process.
It is their ban on women reading from a Torah Scroll in the women’s section, even though Orthodox Jewish law permits it. It is their decision that women cannot wear a Tallit (prayer shawl) while praying unless it is done in a way that does not upset the men. They are the ones that say women singing too loudly is forbidden, and it is their choice to keep the wall segregated like an Orthodox synagogue 24 hours a day.
Why can we coexist in one place but not another? We, non-Orthodox Jews, don’t throw sand at the Orthodox when they are swimming, so why do they hurl stones and insults at us when we are praying? For too many years we have simply accepted this as the status quo, but the time has come to stand up and claim our stake at Judaism’s holiest site.
Orthodox extremists are drifting towards excessive demands of modesty. No longer is it enough that men and women are separated by a partition at the Kotel so men are not disturbed by women, but women are asked not to sing loudly or not to sing at all. The Minister of Religious Affairs stated that the Wall itself listens and is offended by immodest behavior such as women singing.